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These maps show Hurricane Laura’s path and size

Tropical Depression Laura's projected path.National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Laura made landfall in southwestern Louisiana as a menacing Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds early Thursday. Laura had weakened to a tropical depression late Thursday night, but forecasters warned heavy rainfall, gusty winds, and severe weather were still possible.

The system was expected to move across the Middle Mississippi Valley and into the Ohio Valley Friday and cross mid-Atlantic states on Saturday before exiting off the east coast as a post-tropical cyclone on Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center said the storm, which intensified rapidly Wednesday before plowing into land, came ashore at 1 a.m. CDT Thursday about 30 miles east of the Texas border. The system arrived during high tide as the most powerful hurricane to strike the US so far this year, according to the Associated Press.


Hurricane center officials had warned of an “unsurvivable” 20-foot storm surge that could inundate entire communities in Texas and Louisiana, but it ended up being lower than expected. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told the Associated Press ocean water rose as much as 12 feet. Flood waters will not fully recede for several days.

The hurricane’s top wind speed of 150 mph put it among the most powerful systems on record in the US, according to the AP. “It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” said Brett Geymann, who stayed in Moss Bluff, La.

A tornado reportedly tore through a church and homes in northeastern Arkansas Thursday, and warnings were issued for parts of northern Mississippi Friday morning.

Meanwhile, potential rainfall totals could be in the 10-inch range in some areas along the Louisiana-Arkansas border. Little Rock, Arkansas, expected gusts of 50 mph and a deluge of rain through Friday.

Hurricane Laura rainfall potential.National Hurricane Center

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.